The twelfth entry in A. A. Fair's (Erle Stanley Gardner's) Donald Lam and Bertha Cool series begins, as do many of the others, with a new client coming into the office and lying to the two detectives. A young woman--"a nice number, brunette, trim, with nice curves"--claims to be Beatrice Ballwin. She offers the partners $500.00 to prevent her uncle, Gerald, from being poisoned by his wife, Daphne. (This book was published in 1947, when people still had names like Beatrice and Daphne.)
As always, Bertha is happy to take the money while leaving the execution of the job up to Donald. But, as he points out, he can hardly stand by Gerald Ballwin's side, watching everything that his wife serves him to eat. How, exactly, is he supposed to prevent the guy from being poisoned?
Donald comes up with a clever scheme to protect Ballwin that should work perfectly. But then complications occur and all hell breaks loose. The client is unhappy with Donald; Bertha is furious with him, and now the cops are after him.
Oh well, it's all in a day's work for Donald, and as always, he'll have to move quickly and intelligently to save his own bacon and that of the firm. As usual, it's fun watching him maneuver his way through the puzzle while Bertha fumes and sputters and Sergeant Frank Sellers stumbles around one step behind him. This is one of the more entertaining books in a fun, classic series.